Bengio, arguably Israel's leading scholar on the Kurds, has edited a rich and timely volume on the subject, assembling contributors who employ original sources in Kurdish, Turkish, and Arabic to present new insights.
Divided into five sections, based mainly on contemporary geographic configurations, Kurdish Awakening begins with three general essays on the Kurds. Benyamin Neuberger presents a comparative analysis of Kurdish nationalisms in Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Syria; Michael Eppel examines Kurdish tribes and emirates and how their historical memory influenced Kurdish identity before the rise of contemporary nationalism; Eli Amarilyo looks at how tribes have contributed both to the development of Kurdish nationalism and its retardation.
The second section deals with Iraq. Sherko Kirmanj argues that the lack of core Iraqi national values contributed to a stronger Kurdish identity. Rachel Kantz Feder analyzes various Iraqi Kurdish draft constitutions, none of which have been ratified. Ronen Zedel examines four novels written in Arabic by Kurdish authors, illustrating the complexities of the protagonists' multiple identities.
Moving on to Turkey, Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak looks at nonviolent Kurdish political movements and their relationship to the much more powerful and violent PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) while Duygu Atlas analyzes changing state policies toward the increasingly active role of Kurdish women. Section four begins with a broad overview of the Kurdish community in Syria, followed by a closer examination of how Kurdish youth in that war-torn country have been alienated from traditional Kurdish parties.
The final section focuses on Iran where author Nader Entessar argues that the Kurds have constituted an important part of the overall Iranian identity while still aspiring for autonomy in modern times. Hussein Tahiri reflects on those aspirations by showing how the short-lived "Mahabad Republic" (1946) continues to inspire contemporary Kurdish nationalism. In her conclusion, Bengio demonstrates how the recent rise of the Kurds may alter the geopolitical map established on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire in the wake of World War I.
The volume is richly documented and also contains a useful list of acronyms, a thorough subdivided bibliography, and a concluding index. All in all, Kurdish Awakening is one of the best recent collections on the Kurds.